MERSEY Gateway bosses reviewing changes to the tolls have been accused of ignoring Halton businesses struggling to pay charges.

Halton Council and the Mersey Gateway Crossings Board are consulting with the public to let disabled drivers who do not have blue badges cross the £1.86 billion bridge free.

Blood and organ delivery vehicles, unmarked emergency vehicles , tractors and apprentices living in Halton’s highest two tax bands would no longer have to pay under the proposals.

Companies facing big bills say this is unfair.

One haulage firm pays £11,000 a month in tolls.

Dave Martin, managing director of Jet Engineering, which employs 60 people on Ditton Road in Widnes, said: “It costs us £200 a week.

“We have 12 vehicles which go back and to over the bridge.We also have increased costs on deliveries because of the tolls.

“If we upped sticks and moved we would lose half our labour force. They are loyal workers and we are committed to them.

“We feel as if we have been lumbered with the burden of the tolls and ignored.”

Richard Bamber, partner of Anthony’s Travel in Runcorn, said:”They misled the business community saying there would be parity with the tunnel. We pay 200 per cent more on this bridge.

“We have lost contracts and I have to subsidise tolls for staff.

“There should be a frequent user discount for businesses.”

Runcorn MP Mike Amesbury, who is campaigning for free tolls for everyone, said: “I visit businesses regularly and the tolls are often one of the biggest issues that they raise.

“When speaking to union representatives at places like Capita, they say the tolls are having an impact on recruitment and retention.

“The best solution is to make the bridge toll-free and that’s something I’ve been saying from the start.

“The responsibility lies with central government. They were quick to claim credit for removing tolls from the Severn Bridge, so they should be doing the same for the Mersey Gateway.”

The council says they can’t remove the tolls or reduce them as they are needed to pay for the infrastructure.

Halton Council leader Rob Polhill said: “The Road User Charging Scheme Order is a document we are required by law to publish every year.

“We have used this opportunity to amend some technical issues such as signing and tolling rates.”